Loot On StarkNet: ZK-Rollups Enter Blockchain Gaming

Mar 15, 2022

[Xangle Digest]
Written by Bonk





  • Loot is a massive multiplayer on-chain composable game (MMOCCG), started by Dom Hoffman when he released an NFT collection of 8,000 "bags".
  • The core developers of the Lootverse pivoted from Arbitrum to StarkNet to scale the project, as they saw ZK-Rollups superior to Optimistic Rollups.
  • StarkNet and Nethermind are developing an EVM compatible version of their smart contract language to achieve EVM compatibility.


Let There Be Loot

In November 2021, a proposal was made on Loot Talk, suggesting to build the Lootverse on StarkNet.

The Lootverse started with a simple tweet from Dom Hoffman, the co-founder of Vine. He created a collection of 8,000 NFTs that each represent a unique set of “adventurer gear” for users to claim for free. From there, the Lootverse totally went into the hands of its users, as Hoffman intended.

“No images or stats. intentionally omitted for others to interpret.” - @dhof

Loot Ecosystem. Source: @lililashka

Hoffman’s Loot NFT collection inspired the creation of an ever-expanding universe, including Realms, an NFT collection of 8,000 mythical maps of the Lootverse. Meanwhile, Bibliotheca DAO built a dashboard to graph all the derivatives included in the Lootverse. Shortly after the site went live, the Realms and Bibliotheca DAO teams joined together to consolidate and expand their plans.


Not Too Optimistic

The team initially built an alpha version of the extended universe on Arbitrum, an Optimistic Rollup scaling solution for Ethereum. The alpha version included ERC20, ERC721, and ERC1155 tokens; staking NFT+yield contracts; a 2-way NFT bridge from Ethereum to Arbitrum; raiding mechanisms (P2P gaming contracts), and AMM to trade resources.

Although Optimistic Rollups have advantages in terms of compatibility, the 7-day lockup periods for withdrawals are punishing to the users, not to mention the high gas fees, which come across as a serious constraint in terms of composability. After experiencing fee limits and structural barriers, the developers came to the realization that they would need an alternative to the current environment.

Comparison between different scaling solutions. Source: bibliothecadao.xyz

Co-founder of the Bibliotheca DAO, LordOfAFew, elaborated on their rationale for the proposal that on-chain gaming requires three things: cheap fees, cheap computation, and composability. He claimed that ZK-Rollups met all three criteria. While sidechains and app chains have certain advantages, the team concluded that they are either unneeded or somewhat obsolete, clarifying that the goal of the team is to create a gaming protocol and not a blockchain.

On November 23rd, 2021, the Realms Twitter account created a tweet thread announcing the pivot from Arbitrum to StarkNet. In the thread, the Realms team mentioned that "the promise of a game composed of primitives stored on L1 will be realized only on a ZK-Rollup."


Zero Knowledge Is On The Way

Vitalik Buterin, the creator of Ethereum, also envisions ZK-Rollups as the future. He claims that ZK-Rollups will play a crucial role as Ethereum slowly evolves into a modular blockchain where L2s will be responsible for execution and the Ethereum blockchain will be left as the consensus layer. In this world, all applications will be running on L2s.

Ethereum as the base layer for multiple Rollups. Source: vitalik.ca

However, ZK-Rollups have their own problems. ZK-Rollups are relatively harder to implement; sometimes requiring developers to learn new programming languages to leverage its scaling capabilities.

StarkNet is solving this problem by implementing an EVM to Cairo (StarkNet’s native smart contract language) transpiler called Warp. This allows Ethereum native applications to be deployed on StarkNet seamlessly.


Still Early?

As the blockchain gaming industry grows, the demand for scalability is growing accordingly. Ubisoft experimented with Tezos with its Quartz NFT marketplace, and WeMade has been growing rapidly on the Klaytn blockchain. It seems like game developers will choose whatever solution that suits their needs, but again, one can argue "we are still early".

The Animoca-backed Australian NFT startup, Immutable, built on the StarkEx engine, recently raised $200 million at a $2.5 billion valuation. The project also partnered with Gamestop and Loopring, also a ZK-Rollup scaling solution. Will we see a ZK-future in gaming? The Loot community has made its verdict. The rest is yet to come.


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